A letter to my future self

Question: What’s easy to give and nearly impossible to take?

Answer: Advice.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve earnestly expressed the old adage “sometimes the universe just tells you to stop sometimes, because that’s exactly what you most need to do”… I’d have an overstuffed hefty bag of dollars. Raise your hand if I’ve said it to you. I know. I know. It wasn’t super helpful, was it? When a friend snapped her achilles’ heel, I definitely said it. When friends get sick, when they break bones, when they have surgery, I’m always there with the sticky sweet “silver lining” interpretation that these unwelcome pauses are messages we need to hear, often (always?) when we least want them, and usually (always!) when we most need to just stop.

But now, the shoe is on the other foot. I’m the one who has been put on “on ice”. Last month a friend said to me “with this surgery, literally everyone has given you permission to take time off – the only person you have to convince that this is OK, is you”. Very true. It wasn’t easy, but as the days off dwindle, I can sincerely say is that I tried my best. Friday marked 3 weeks since my surgery. I am feeling great, my incision is healing well and I am feeling very, very fortunate. I had my check-in with my surgeon at Albany Med on Wednesday and received the “all clear” to return my previously scheduled programming as soon as I’m ready. My plan is to return to the real world on July 6th and I must admit I’ll do so with a bit of trepidation. Not with fear of what awaits me (summer in Saratoga = my favorite season), but with hopes that I will look back on this time without regret. It truly has been a gift to have this time “off” and especially to have had it without any significant pain or inconvenience. I am simply the luckiest person I know, and I just hope I can hang on to some of what has been so good about this 100% guilt-free time-out.

So, I’m pulling out a few old school teacher tricks to help me navigate this last bit of doctor-approved, fully sanctioned down time: giving myself a grade on this project AND writing a letter for the time capsule for my “future me” to open…. let’s just say, one year from today 7.2.23.

The Letter

Dear Me in early July 2024,

It’s July, before the busy season begins… how are you feeling? Are you rested? Are you ready? (Really, are you ever really ready?) Let’s take a little quiz, based on June 2023, to see if you’ve held on to any of the things that you prioritized during your R&R. Good luck! ~ Me

  • How many books have your read?
  • How many naps have you taken (or tried to take)?
  • How many mornings have you stayed in bed past 7am?
  • How are you doing on your gratitude journal + Headspace?
  • How many independent conversations have you had on that front porch (in person or phone)?
  • Have you practiced with The Mook (my bass guitar)? Taken any lessons?
  • Are you more or less “caught up” with your non-work related “to do list”?
  • Have you talked to your mom lately? How about auntie Sue?
  • How many walks have you taken?
  • Have you spent some quality time with Bobby? One on one?
  • Is the campground project in good shape, with volunteers feeling supported?
  • Is there someone you’ve wanted to catch up with that you’ve not yet been in touch with?

June 2023 Scorecard

I guess I’ve kind of rigged this quiz based on the things I’ve done this June, so I’ll give myself a decent grade. Let’s say A-. My goal has been to sit still and be present with a focus on rest (and recovery). The thing that most helped me do the sitting was that I had two weeks when I wasn’t allowed to drive, which I’ve now learned is an excellent way to force a person to “cool their jets”. It worked like a charm! The other big help (or cheat) was that I rationalized a lot of not-work, by staying off of work email but spending “a bit” of time with friends on phone and text – mostly from my beloved porch.

Now, we’ll find out if I find that having done all of these things (or actively not doing things) creates some sort of lasting effect on my mind and body as I dive back into the summer next week. I hope so!

Looking ahead, the even tougher test will be… next year, without the “forced time-out”, will I find a way to prioritize all these gestures intended to help me refresh, recharge and regroup? I hope that by writing this down I’ll at least make a sincere effort to try and maybe even inspire someone else reading this to do the same. It shouldn’t really take major surgery to make us slow down, right?

As a mostly unrelated footnote, on the same day that I’ve written this little time capsule, I’ve “announced” my new title at work: Director of Donor Engagement. After 5 years at the TRF, I’m glad to have a new chapter begin – even if it’s mostly semantic. Yesterday, I updated my linked in profile and my Facebook page to reflect this title. I like it. It’s a bit broader and softer than the old title. It’s a little less likely to make people run for the hills (although I liked the transparency of intent that came with “major gifts”). As I come back into my responsibilities at the TRF after this chapter of “stall rest”, it feels good to return with a refreshed approach to my role, combined with my recharged body & soul. Seems like a good recipe for a great summer ahead. I’m game!

Let’s get rolling and see how it goes!

The horses are approaching the starting gate: 11 days until Opening Day!

Happy Summer & Happy 4th of July!